Eight rescued from Thai cave, but five remain trapped

Eight rescued from Thai cave, but five remain trapped

Eight rescued from Thai cave, but five remain trapped

After the rescue of four young footballers Sunday buoyed spirits and hope, the team of expert foreign and Thai divers is getting back into the water for what's hoped to be a repeat performance.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited the cave to inspect the operation, with navy rescuers giving him a rousing cheer.

He said the plan is to launch the third rescue mission within 20 hours, and he is hoping for "100 per cent success".

A press briefing was to be held shortly.

Four boys were rescued Monday, the Thai navy confirmed, bringing the total rescued to eight since operations began Sunday.

Thai authorities said the parents of the four boys rescued Sunday are still being kept from physical contact with them due to fear of infections.

Monday's operation began at 11 a.m. and took nine hours, two fewer than Sunday, with rescuers helped by the experience they've accumulated, Narongsak told a news conference punctuated with rounds of applause.

He was reportedly among the first extracted because he was in the worst conditions because he had given the boys his share of the group's meagre food supply before they were found.

The boys and their coach have been trapped in the cave system in the country's north for about two weeks.

Crews also say rescue operations have stopped for the day, according to CNN.

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Samarn died early on Friday after he and a fellow volunteer were on their way back from placing oxygen tanks deep inside the cave. An elaborate plan to rescue a soccer team of 12 young boys and their coach from a cave in northern Thailand is taking shape.

The soccer team had been trapped in the underground cave network since June 23, with flash floods causing water levels to rise, making it hard to get out. "Hooyah", the Thai Navy SEALs said in a post on their official Facebook page, referring to the boys and their coach by the name of their football team.

These divers have been working together to help guide the boys through the long, hard passages of the cave.

Asked if the remaining five would be shuttled out together, rescue operations chief Narongsak Osottanakorn said it was up to the divers whose meticulous plans, including stashing extra oxygen tanks along the route, are "set for four people, if we bring five we have to change the plan". Highlighting the extreme dangers, a former Thai Navy SEAL died Friday while replenishing the oxygen canisters placed along the route to the boys' damp refuge.

A vehicle loaded with oxygen tanks is seen near the Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Four were rescued Sunday and four more on Monday.

Channel News Asia reported seeing three helicopters flying from the cave toward the nearby city of Chiang Rai, where the rescued boys are being treated in a hospital.

US Embassy Bangkok spokesman Steve Castonguay said that "The US will remain here to continue to support this operation until all the soccer players and their coach have been rescued".

Officials last week said they would bring the fittest people in the group out first, but Narongsak later said that whoever was ready first would be escorted out. They entered the complex with their 25-year-old coach following a practice - and before a sudden heavy rainstorm hit.

So far those who have been released have been rushed off to hospital, and the most recent boys to make it out have been stretchered off.

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